Doctor who was destined to return to where it all started

A doctor who recently joined the clinical team at Pendleside is no stranger to the hospice.


In fact, Dr Ferheen Umer cut her teeth in medical practice there for six months when she worked two days a week as a GP placement having just started her GP training in 2017. She had qualified as a doctor three years earlier.


Dr Umer said: “When I was informed I was going to do part of my training in palliative care I admit I was a little nervous.

“As a young doctor I had very little awareness of hospices. It was something quite different to what I was used to. During training I had had very limited experiences of hospice care.

“In fact, when I was at medical school I spent only three days in a hospice and other than that my only experience was when I visited my grandma once when she was in East Lancashire Hospice.

“I was apprehensive about the difficult conversations I may have to have with patients’ families breaking bad news to them and things like that.”

Dr Umer, whose uncle is a GP, studied at Hull York Medical School, Heslington, York, one of the most modern and advanced medical schools in the country.

She added: “I soon realised what a really good place Pendleside is. I worked under Dr Chris Ainsworth, Dr Moira Yates and Dr Samantha Golding who were really good with me.

“It definitely opened my eyes to what function hospices serve within the health care service and what palliative care is all about.

“I learned how in hospices doctors and nurses work so closely together. I know that happens in NHS hospitals too but it seems so much different in the hospice. There you really get to know a patient and you always feel to be part of a team, you, the other staff and the patients and their families.”

When Dr Umer finished her six months placement she always felt if the opportunity arose to return she would do. And so it happened.

She said: “After my GP training I worked in A&E at Blackburn and then in other hospital departments like acute medical and gynaecology .

“Then carried out locum work at the practice I completed my final year of GP training.

“And last December I spoke to Dr Anna McPherson and mentioned if there were opportunities for me to work in some capacity at Pendleside I would like to.

“Then when the hospice increased its inpatient capacity at the start of the Covid pandemic I became a regular out of hours and on-call weekend doctor which led to me working a few days a week on the inpatients’ unit.”

Dr Umer’s presence at the hospice was so positive that in September she was approached to take up a regular full-time contract of working three days a week. The other two days she works at a doctor’s surgery.

She said: “While it has been stressful at times during the pandemic on the whole I am so happy I am back there. I am one of five doctors who cover the hospice 24 hours-a -day seven-days a week. It all seems to work so well.”

Helen McVey, chief executive at Pendleside, said: “We were delighted that Dr Umer was able to join us on a permanent basis. We really wouldn’t have been able to offer the service we have with increased bed capacity if she hadn’t offered her services at the time of crisis and are really pleased that she is committed to working at Pendleside long term.”